Saturday, April 21, 2007

Starting an IANDS Group

I am doing something different this month in my column. I am featuring several offerings from Rev. Richard A. Dinges of the Virginia Beach, Virginia “Friends of IANDS” group. IANDS, remember, is the International Association For Near-Death Studies, and they are headquartered in Connecticut, with support groups scattered through the U.S. and the world. I know you will find this material of interest, and of value. --PMH

This first blog is from Rev. Dinges is an open-letter on “Starting a Local IANDS Group.” The second blog is from Rev. Dinges is an article entitled “Near-Death Experience and What We Can Learn From It.”

Hello to All,

I am interested to help those who would like to start a new IANDS group in their city, town, or institution of higher learning. The greatest help I can give is to connect you with National IANDS resources. A Start-up Pak is available by USPS. You can request it by going straight to The long route is to start with, click on Resources, click on Local Groups, click on starting a new group.

The Pak includes many helpful items that can be accepted as suggestions for what might work for you. The most important item is a booklet entitled, "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Starting a Friends of IANDS."

I would be glad to exchange e-mails with anyone interested in starting a group. Of course, we don't wish to duplicate efforts. There may already be a group in your area. The best way to find out is to go to the IANDS web site and check. Go to, click on Support and then Local Groups.

I have enjoyed my time working with Cheryl Birch and the Board of Virginia Beach IANDS over the last 18 months. I have gotten to hear all the speakers, plus I've been able to tape them on both audio and video. These programs are available to you upon request. We have a lending library. All I ask is that you cover the cost of postage both ways. Currently Media Mail is $1.59 for a videotape one way. If you are looking for programs and would like to borrow a tape, let me know and I will give you a complete list of what is available. A local program might include the showing of a tape, and then discussion.

Another way I can help is to forward to you announcements of other local IANDS groups. This might give you ideas about how other groups are functioning. If you would like to receive such announcements, just let me know.

Finally, I would like to add a word about the importance of what we are doing. Consider that most of the world functions within the narrow limits of various religions. The world is divided by belief and practice. What I have learned from my study of NDE is that we are all one in God, and that God doesn't favor one religion over another. Instead, according to life review reports, how we feel about how we have treated others is most important. In short, in the life review, persons see and feel the impact of all that they have done to others. God doesn't judge us on this, but God let's us evaluate our own performance so that we can choose to relate to others in a better way.

Imagine a world in which persons would respect differences in religion, and honor people who follow different religions. Imagine a world in which persons would understand that we are all related in God regardless of the religion we practice. Imagine a world in which persons would treat one another with the kindness and helpfulness that will result in a feeling of having related well upon viewing one's life review.

A study of near-death experience was a bridge for me to move from accepting the Bible alone as the authority for my religion to a broader base of spirituality that sees us all related to one another in God. I would like to share my spiritual journey with others. That's why I'm working with IANDS. I would also like to take this opportunity to share with you the content of the program I share with a group of my clergy peers. I'll attach it to this message. Contact me if you would like to start a group.



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